Records reveal that 90% of the productive time engaged by Project Managers is on communication. The PMI’s 2013 Pulse of the Profession report states that effective communications to all stakeholders as the most critical in project management.
The report further cautioned about the high risks due to poor communication, which is a shocking figure of 56% percentage.
One of the reason attributed to this rise in risk is the negligence to proper communication as project managers, at times, tend to take it for granted. Communication during the inception, especially about requirement walk-through can prove critical and impact the outcome of the project. It’s important all the stakeholders well informed and educated about the expectations. Capturing the requirement correctly – usually exchanging notes and drawings or prototype – is again typical communication management. If the start is good, it’s as good half the battle won. Most of the failures when analyzed point to the requirement analysis when the customer and vendor’ understanding failed to match. For the scope of this article, let’s look at key aspects that stress the need for effective communication in a business project.
Understanding stakeholders’ expectation: it’s easy to misread as ‘requirements’. Stakeholders always have an expectation as to how the project should evolve and shape up. It will be difficult to gauge the expectation in the first call and hence it’s iterative. The back and forth exchange is a necessity till all involved are able to read and interpret the message in voice – unanimous. The objectives agreeable mutually should be engaged as the mission of the project.
Risk Mitigation: Any undertaking will have its share of risks. Black and white is almost picture perfect. There will be some grey area, which is expected in a business engagement. . When the communication is free and frequent, chances are good in ironing out the difference and closing the gaps. The worst of risks are the assumptions made in the absence of valid or required information. Correspondence between different stakeholders will cut down the clutter and enhance understanding. The better the understanding, lesser will be the assumptions. Assumptions are inevitable, but efforts should be made to keep it to the minimum with least impact.
Transparency breeds trust. Communication helps to earn the stakeholders confidence. Much depends on the matter and manner which is being communicated and the manner. Its time bound and information critical to build a good rapport in order to build credibility. When there is nothing to hide, why will be the need to doubt? Open and transparent communication always clear results in garnering goodwill and establishing trustworthiness. An honest response that conveys an unpleasant message might be difficult to savor but that’s how integrity is build. Trust deficit or erosion can create serious conflicts in slowing or stopping project. On the other hand, earning stakeholders’ confidence will help in better understanding within both the parties to allow some leeway or latitude. All said and done, it boils to the trust – how reliable you are, and more importantly, truthful.
Precise and concise communication. Prompt, punctual and proper exchange of information using appropriate channels defines communication. How many actually acknowledge a mail receipt – though it’s the best way to assure. It doesn’t need to be rich in prose or sound poetic – a simple message using simple language is enough as long it communicates the required and desired information. Besides, stakeholders, especially decision makers are always short of time and may not be read the length of the letter. Hence it’s recommended to keep it precise and to the point.
Regular and frequent communication. It’s never construed as disturbance when it comes to the messages affecting the commitment. Free and forthcoming communication that’s scheduled or unscheduled is always welcome and never understood as an intrusion specifically about project updates. The daily status report, weekly status report and similar reports are scheduled ones that are expected. And any alerts, warning or clarification exchanges are unplanned or unscheduled. Frequent communication will help in project navigation and better understanding of the actual progress made as accountable stakeholders will confirm or raise flags as concern to undertake remedial measures, if required.
Communication Management features as one the knowledge areas in PMI’s PMBOK® A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). If you have a comment, please drop by and we can discuss it further.
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